Embarrassing but hardly shocking: Less than half of U.S. students are currently proficient in science.
According to a recently published Education Department report, only a third of the nation’s fourth-graders, 30 percent of eighth-graders and 21 percent of twelfth-graders are capable of performing at or above a proficient science level.
“The results released today show that our nation’s students aren’t learning at a rate that will maintain America’s role as an international leader in the sciences,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan warned in an e-mailed statement obtained by Bloomberg.
“When 1 or 2 percent of children score at the advanced levels on NAEP, the next generation will not be ready to be world-class inventors, doctors and engineers.”
Francis Eberle, executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, expressed similar sentiments and emphasized that the controversial 2002 “No Child Left Behind” law was at least partially responsible for the debacle.
Indeed, the federal legislation stipulates that schools must test students in math and reading, but not science.
“Science has been left off the national agenda for too long, and now we are paying the price,” Eberle told the Wall Street Journal.
“We are seeing a persistent degradation of skills, and we’ve lost a generation of students. [Clearly], what gets tested gets taught.”
Note: The above-mentioned science assessment was given to 156,500 fourth-graders, 151,100 eighth-graders and 11,100 twelfth-graders. The full report can be accessed here.